Impatient Waiter: The Hero’s Journey
I would hate to admit that my career is waiting tables, but since I can’t think of any other way to phrase it, that’s my career. It’s a terrible career for someone like me. Us ultra-creative types need to create, and bringing food to people for two bucks an hour plus tips isn’t really a form a creation. Granted, some people were made for waiting tables. It is an honorable way to work hard and make decent money, but not for me. I hate small talk and I can’t fake a smile if my life depended on it, I’m hard of hearing and I have trouble understanding people when they have a thick Okie accent. I’m a terrible waiter really, I’m just good at busting my ass to getting the job done, and every once in a while the eater will take notice of that and give me a good tip.
But it is a frustrating thing to be a waiter most days; constantly cleaning up after people, refilling drinks, dealing with crying babies that are spitting crackers everywhere in a three table radius, and trying to communicate with people who more or less believe themselves to be better than you in every way. I cannot begin to explain the amount of people who will not even look at you when you ask them what they want to drink, or completely ignore your questions, or won’t let you finish your sentence. It’s ridiculous. I also believe that restaurants are that last great place where adults can make a mess like a child and not be responsible for cleaning it up.
I am saying all of that to get to my point that I am a very bitter person. I hate dealing with people most days. It sounds dumb, but if I don’t get enough sleep the night before, or if I have a big project on my mind (which I most always do) you are probably not going to get five-star service…but then again I don’t work at a nice five-star restaurant. It doesn’t take a lot to set me off or much to make me get a chip on my shoulder. If someone walks in, walks past the hostess (who is there to seat you) and past the sign that says that we will seat you at a table, I automatically become bitter because usually the person will sit down at a dirty table or a table that someone else is already sitting at, and expect things. I usually see these people walk in, but since I’m a butt-head I don’t help them for a good amount of time. I don’t walk in to a doctor’s office for example, walk past the receptionist and into some random room, plop myself down on one of those weird table-chair things with the paper on it, and expect treatment immediately.
I could go on about all of the things people do in restaurants that bother me. Trust me, I’ve been waiting tables for 8 years…I could go on, but I really do have a point to get to here…
I’m stuck, you see. I’m bitter because I am doing something that I know is not my purpose, it’s not why I am here. When I was just a little middle-schooler, I went to church camp…ah yes, church camp, that last great place where adolescents can leave their messy lives and escape to Jesus…but the summer after my youth pastor, Dan, had been fired from the church I felt God calling me to be a youth pastor myself. Dan and I got along great, and he was really instrumental in my life and keeping me away from certain things and out of trouble. I’ve read some weird statistics about kids who grow up without fathers that usually end with them being in jail or addicted to something, and while my mom and my dad were still married at the time, my dad was working a lot overseas and I had kind of given up on him, so more or less, my dad wasn’t around much and even if he was I didn’t care. Thankfully, Dan was there to kind of keep me going on the right path. I owe a lot of my Christian life to him. But since churches are churches, a dispute here and there got Dan fired, or asked to leave, or something…It crushed me. Here was the one guy who had taken me under his wing and had shown me Jesus in a way that I had never experienced before. I was very bitter to say the least, but for some reason, the summer after all this had happened, I felt God calling me to be a youth pastor. That is a typical God move right there too, to take someone who had been burned by something and shown them that way to Him is the way through the fire that burned you.
After I made that choice, every step I made in my life was in that direction, to be a youth minister. I enrolled in Christian university, took leadership classes, was always active in my church youth group, tried to learn to play guitar, and so on. I eventually got a youth ministry internship at a church I had been attending. It was great. I was still waiting tables and working in restaurants at the time, but I don’t ever remember me being bitter about it because that wasn’t my career. My career way ahead of me, and waiting tables was just a means to an end.
Then those flames that burned me when I was young seemed to flare up again. I won’t get into details, but I believe there is a popular phrase that fits well here: same old shit.
Churches are a great thing. I love and need them in my life. When they are good, they are beautiful, but when one things gets off track it seems like the whole train is going to come off its rails.
So, I quit my job as the intern. I dropped out of youth ministry school because I had no clue what I wanted to do anymore. I had spent the past seven years or so with one goal, only to give up on that goal. I quit going to church for a while. It was here that I began to run from what God had in store for me. It was here that I left it all behind. I cut ties and ran. It was the end.
I am finding out that God is very relentless though.
If my life were a story in a book, this point where I decided to run would be normal. I am working on a fictional story right now where the main character is your quintessential hero in the most unlikely of ways. He is the “everyman” in the story. Just as every hero in history has, he has a calling. The calling isn’t easy, in fact he runs from it, he refuses to accept the calling. It’s all apart of the hero’s journey. He refusal to accept the calling will ultimately lead him to being thrown into the calling no matter how far he runs from it.
I have found that following the calling God had put on me so long ago is still there, no matter how far I have run from it. It’s a lot easier to stay on the path of the hero’s journey, the original plan, but if you don’t stick to the original Plan, like I said, God is relentless and He’s going to throw you back on the path.
It may take the firing of someone close to you…
It may take a flame…
It may take sleepless nights and bitterness…
But God is relentless.
Getting back on the path of the hero’s journey only sounds difficult, because God as the ultimate Author allows his children to pick up right where they left off and sometimes even a little further down the road.
My brother and I were talking the other day, and he mentioned how many people he had talked to that had used the phrase, “you know, I always felt God call me to [whatever]…but…[lame-ass excuse]”.
I’m telling you this from experience: if God has called you anything, you should do it before it gets out of hand. A lot of the Bible is normal people saying no to God when He calls on them only to have the story go on to find themselves doing it anyways. God’s story can continue without you and I, but trust me, you want to be apart of it. Whether you were called to [whatever] and got lost in [lame-ass excuse], friend, let’s get back on the path. The story God has given us will only point to a Story greater than us.
So consider me vomited on the beach like Jonah.
You cannot run far enough from God’s call on your life. You don’t have to be a pastor or a missionary, maybe you do, but you know where God has called you. He hasn’t called me to deliver people’s food to them, and even though He can use me there it’s not the Plan. There is no Plan B. There is the Plan and it’s going to happen with or without you.
Take it from me, a very impatient waiter, doing what God called you to is far greater than where you can take yourself. Easy? No. Greater? Yes.